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So, I have friends from High School coming to the island for the first time later next week. Of course, I want to show them the very best that St Croix has to offer, so I’ve put together the ultimate St Croix Itinerary to make sure they see the island, experience the culture and go back home raving and telling all their friends about what a magical place St Croix is. I’ve got five days to convince them that our little sunny island is the bomb-diggitty so here are my suggestions for the ultimate St Croix experience.
Arrival Day – relax, check in and make your way into Christiansted to the Boardwalk for harborside sunset cocktails. Then head over to one of my favorite St Croix restaurants, Savant, for a delicious dinner on the über sexy back patio under the stars.
Rum Tours! If you’ve heard of St Croix, you’ve likely heard of Cruzan Rum – but did you know that Captain Morgan Rum is also made here on St Croix? And both plants offer cool tours and, of course, tastings! I recommend heading first to the Captain Morgan Experience Center. The tour there is about an hour and you get two drink tokens to sample the goods in the Captain’s Lounge. The Captain Morgan plant is state-of-the-art and mostly automated. The Experience Center offers a museum like walk through the history of rum, piracy and the Caribbean.
After the tour, head West on the Melvin Evan’s Highway and take a right at the second set of lights – follow that Road down to the Cruzan Rum Factory. Here, the Nelthropp Family has been (and still is) making rum since 1760! You’ll take a tour through their facility and see how their hand-crafted rums are made and learn all about the rum making process. As you wind your way through the warehouses of vats and rum aging in oaken barrels, you’ll end up at the appropriately named “Don’t Hurry” lounge. This is the perfect spot to sample the MANY flavors of Cruzan Rum and the bartenders will share with you their favorite recipes. And don’t forget to grab rum to take home! Travelers over 21 years of age can bring home 6 bottles of alcohol as long as one was made in the Virgin Islands. Price-wise, this is actually one of the best places to make your purchase and they’ll even box it up ready to check-in at the airport. Of course, you’ll want a few bottles to enjoy while you’re here too!
After learning everything there is to know about rum, take a ride up into the “rainforest” to the world-famous Domino Club to visit the “beer-drinking pigs” and the much loved owner, Norma. It’s the worth the trip just to sample some of her mamawana which is a secret recipe of rum and spices that’s carefully aged. Sip it, shoot it or have it in a mixed drink … I love the “Mama Rosa” which is mamawana and ruby red grapefruit juice. Refreshing!
Following the Domino Club, come down the hill and head west to one of the Frederiksted Beach Bars which is the perfect spot to lime for the rest of the day and watch the sunset into the Caribbean sea. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the fabled “green flash”.
Sleep in. Now that you’ve been properly indoctrinated into the rum culture here on St Croix, it’s time to hit the beach. Grab some snorkel gear and head out to the North Shore of St Croix and hit Cane Bay Beach. This popular beach is not only an awesome place to get in some excellent offshore snorkeling but it’s also the place to see the world famous Cane Bay Wall.
If you’re a certified diver, you can grab tanks and head out on a spectacular and easy shore dive that will have you peering over the underwater cliff into the abyss. Over the side of the wall you’ll often encounter sea turtles, schools and schools of bright tropical fish and the occasional reef shark looking to see if anyone has a lionfish treat for them. If you’d prefer to stay on top of the water, you can walk across the street and rent a kayak from our friends at Virgin Kayak. While you’re there, check out Jill & Bryan’s pre-Columbian art gallery and their eco-camp! And don’t forget to sign up for one of their Salt River Kayak Tours.
After a late morning/early afternoon of beach time, walk across the street and grab lunch from eat@canebay. This funky little beach bar has some of the best food on the North Shore and a fantastic array of fruity, frosty cocktails – not to mention a killer wine list.
If you’re up for some more activity following lunch, take a hike down to the Annaly Bay Tide Pools – there’s a trail from the Carambola Beach Resort public parking lot. The hike takes roughly an hour in and an hour out. You’ll go up and down a hill each way. It’s not a killer hike, but is a moderate one. So be sure to bring a backpack with water and wear sneakers or tevas. Once you are down to the beach landing, you’ll climb over some rocks to get into the pools – so flip flops aren’t recommended. Be sure to make your way back at least an hour and a half before sunset to ensure you have plenty of light on your way back.
Head back to your accommodations later in the afternoon to wash off the salt and sand and then treat yourself to a relaxing evening at one of Christiansted’s finer restaurants. St Croix has become a beacon on the culinary map developing some super start chefs. Each April the island boasts a week of food-centric events, seminars and competitions with the St Croix Food & Wine Experience. It also attracts some renowned chefs from across the country who share their talents and passion for the art of eating.
Head out to the Eastern most point in the United States. If you’re an early riser, you can even try to catch the sunrise and be the first peeps in the US to feel the warmth of the sun on your face. From there you’ll see a little parking area and the entrance to the hiking trail down to Jacks & Isaacs Beach. This pristine white sand beach is surrounded by reef and coral heads and so has some of the best snorkeling on the island. There are no facilities so you’ll want to bring down a backpack with water, snacks, etc. to make a day of it. And don’t forget sunscreen!! I recommend bringing and wearing a rash guard to protect your back while snorkeling too. You can read about our fun family day a few years back at Jacks & Isaacs.
Following the day exploring the beach – stop by Ziggy’s Libation station on your way back. This fun little gas station/bar/deli is a popular happy hour spot for locals. Take a break and play corn-hole or if you’re there at the right time, sign up for one of their famous “Dinners on the Deck” by the uber talented Chef Aaron.
You’ve explored both ends of St Croix and honed your snorkeling skills, so now it’s time to head out to Buck Island Reef National Monument! Book a full day or a half-day trip out to this little gem that sits 2 miles off of St Croix’s North/East coast. In the 60’s this was a favorite spot of the Kennedy’s and so President John F. Kennedy designated it a National Monument to preserve it. Nowadays it’s managed by the National Parks and this uninhabited island is actually less than 1/3 of the park – the rest is below sea level. To get there you must book your trip with one of the official concessioners licensed to take guests out to Buck Island. Tour operators will supply you with snorkel gear (unless you have your own to bring along) and instruction for newbies. You’ll spend about an hour or so exploring the underwater trail and reef on the east side of the island. This spot has some of the most diverse schools of fish and marine life in the Caribbean and is featured in 1,000 Places To See Before You Die – so don’t miss it! Full day trips on Big Beard’s Adventure Tours include a beach barbeque on a secluded beach back on St Croix just across from Buck Island.
Spend the morning in historic downtown Christiansted to get in a little shopping and explore St Croix’s history. This 18th Century Danish colonial town was once the capital of the Danish West Indies and is a beautiful example of neoclassic Danish architecture. The town itself is on the National Register of Historic places. Take a self-guided walking tour through the Christiansted historic district starting at Fort Christianvaern. Here you’ll find the National Park Service office and can pick up a map that will lead you to historic points of interest following your exploration of the fort. Throughout the district you’ll find shops that house local artisans and jewelers – you simply MUST bring home a St Croix bracelet, all the cool kids where them. For true. You’ll find plenty of treasures to bring home to friends and family and to remind you of your St Croix experience.
In the afternoon, wrap up your St Croix adventure with a magical riding tour with Cruzan Cowgirls Horse Riding Tours. Most rides head out from Rainbow Beach in Frederiksted. You’ll explore the beach and the rainforest while riding horses who have been lovingly rescued and rehabilitated by Jennifer and her family. Read more here! After your ride you can catch one more West End sunset with a cocktail and reminisce about your week.
There are SO MANY things to do that I didn’t get to in this itinerary, but it’s a great first introduction to the island – so you’ll just have to plan another St Croix vacation to get to everything! Ready to explore? Plan your trip here.
And be sure to check out our St Croix Events Calendar to plan your time around some of our exciting island events.
Do you have a favorite St Croix excursion or tour? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below ↓